Dodgers @ D-Backs June 25, 2019: Stripling returns to the rotation against Ray

Clayton Kershaw turned in his worst start of the season last night, and the bullpen reverted to their struggling ways as the Dodgers dropped game one in the desert. Today, the Dodgers look to even up the series with a reliever returning to the starting rotation.

D-backs
Dodgers
6:40 p.m.
Arizona
RF
Jones
CF
Hernández
2B
Marte
3B
Turner
3B
Escobar
RF
Verdugo
LF
Peralta
SS
Taylor
1B
Walker
C
Smith
CF
Dyson
LF
Garlick
SS
Ahmed 1B Beaty
C
Kelly
2B
Barnes
P
Ray (L)
P
Stripling (R)

Ross Stripling will make his seventh start of the season tonight in place of Rich Hill, who will be out for some time. Stripling’s first six starts came early on in the season, and he fared pretty well. In 34 innings, Stripling allowed 10 runs and 10 walks while he struck out 32 batters. He allowed fewer than three runs in four of his six starts, but didn’t complete five innings in either of his final two (perhaps knowing a move to the bullpen was coming). Stripling’s first start of the season came against the Diamondbacks, and he shut them out over 5 1/3 innings.

Despite being seen as a starter, most of his time in relief has come in short stints. His last outing was June 20th, so he’s operating on standard rest. He threw two innings and 45 pitches in that game, which is the longest outing he’s had since his last start. Stripling maxed out at 34 pitches in his other 13 appearances, and recorded more than three outs only twice in that span. He had one relief outing against Arizona and allowed two walks in two innings.

Robbie Ray starts for Arizona and faces the Dodgers for the third time this year. Ray is still looking to replicate his excellent 2017 season, but hasn’t quite been able to match that since. In 88 1/3 innings this season, Ray owns a 3.87 ERA/3.70 FIP. Ray has seen about a one MPH difference in velocity on all his pitches this season, but has received mostly better results than last season. His strikeouts are slightly lower, but he’s walking fewer batters. Most importantly, after consecutive seasons of being in the lower percentiles of average exit velocity and hard hit rate, Ray now finds him self above-average in both of those categories. Compared to last season, Ray’s average exit velocity against is down nearly 3 MPH (89.6 MPH to 86.8 MPH) and his hard hit rate is down from 41.6 percent to 35.2 percent. While his ERA is only slightly better than it was last year, his FIP and WHIP are both improved.

Ray has a reputation for being a bit of a Dodger killer, but hasn’t quite dominated them in 2019. In two starts against LA, Ray has combined to throw 12 innings and allowed six runs. In his first start, Ray only lasted five innings and allowed the three runs and three hits, but struck out nine Dodgers. Last time the two squared off in early June, Ray threw a season-high seven innings and allowed six hits and three runs while striking out nine. A.J. Pollock and Corey Seager each donged off Ray in the previous meetings, but neither of them are healthy. After allowing five homers in his first 12 starts, Ray has allowed six in his four June starts, including two in each of his last two outings.

The Dodgers are rolling out a lineup. Seven righties are in the lineup against Ray, who throws with his left hand. Will Smith catches while Austin Barnes gets his first start of the season at second base. Cody Bellinger sits, so it will be real impressive if a fan sneaks into the dugout to hug him (for real idiots stop doing that). With an early game tomorrow, it makes sense for the Dodgers to give Bellinger and Max Muncy the night off against a lefty.

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Buy our shirts.

The Dodgers failed to hit a walkoff home run last night. Slackers.

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Pollock seems to be making progress.

Pollock hasn’t played since April 28th, but will hit on the field today. His return could mean even more Joc Pederson at first base moving forward.

Seager is also hitting some milestones.

Chris Taylor has filled in admirably since Seager’s injury, but Seager had been turning it on right before he got hurt.

David Freese is not making progress.

However, Freese still might be the first of the three to return.

The All-Star break begins two weeks from yesterday (holy shit), with games resuming on July 12th in Boston.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.